Peter Behrens (1868-1940)

German architect and designerPeter Behrens was one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, and he is one of the founders ofmodernindustrial architecture and design.

Portrait of Behrens in black and white. Additionally, he is sitting down at a desk.
Portrait of Behrens

Image source:,_um_1913.jpg

About His Life

Peter Behrens was born in Hamburg, Germany to a Protestant family. He studied painting in his hometown before moving to Düsseldorf and Karlsruhe between 1886 and 1889. In 1899, after marrying Lilly Kramer, he moved to Munich, where he joined theJugendstilmovement. There, he first worked as a painter, illustrator, and artisan bookbinder, approached bohemian circles and developed an interest in modern living. Then, in 1893, he helped found the Munich Succession. Later, in 1899, he accepted the invitation of the Grand Duke Ernest Louis of Hesse to be one of the participants in his project of an artists’ settlement.

Behrens House (1899) Peter Behrens: A picturesque white and brown house.
Behrens House (1899) Peter Behrens

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His Work

In addition to architecture, Behrens also designed household appliances. He worked to standardize the shapes of their components to make them interchangeable and to simplify the production process. In 1898, he collaborated with the Berlin design magazinePanto create his first furniture design. Additionally,he produced woodcuts, colored illustrations, designs for book bindings, and crafts objects entirely shaped by theJugendstilformal language.

Coffee service by P. Behrens (British Museum): A white and red funky designed mug.
Coffee service by P. Behrens (British Museum)

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Electric kettle by Peter Behrens (museum of decorative arts, Paris): A brass tea kettle with a circular handle.
Electric kettle by Peter Behrens (museum of decorative arts, Paris)

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Also, Behrens made significant contributions to painting, architecture, graphic and industrial design. His works impacted all these areas and laid the foundation for the experiments and discoveries of future generations (includingLudwig Mies van der Rohe,Le Corbusier, andWalter Gropius).

Peter Behrens’ AEG Turbine Factory: A large tan building without much elaborate design.
Peter Behrens’ AEG Turbine Factory

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His Style

Behrenswas one of the leaders of architectural reform at the edge of the century and a major designer of factories and office buildings in brick, steel, and glass. Further, heis one of the most important forerunners ofModernismandFunctionalism, as much as fellow contemporary designers, architects, and painters, such as Henri van de Velde,Walter Gropius,Le Corbusier,Josef Hoffmann, orGustav KlimtandMies van der Rohe.

Behrens’ Major Works

  • Behrens Housein Darmstadt, Germany (1899)
  • AEG Turbine Factoryin Berlin, Germany (1909)
  • AEG Factory Hallin Berlin, Germany (1910)
  • Office building of the Hoechst AGin Frankfurt, Germany, (1920-1925)
  • Winarsky-Hof(with J. Frank, J. Hoffmann, O. Strnad, Wlach) in Vienna, Austria (1924)
  • Franz-Domes-Hofin Vienna, Austria (1928)
  • Tobacco Factoryin Linz, Austria, (1929-1935)
Poster by Peter Behrens for the company (AEG- year of creation 1907): A poster with a light bulb in the center.
Poster by Peter Behrens for the company (AEG- year of creation 1907)

Image source:图书馆

Arts Journal (1912) by Peter Behrens from Jahrbücher: A black and white art journal with fluid designs on the cover.
Arts Journal (1912) by Peter Behrens from Jahrbücher

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